As the owner of a downtown business, Bob Stewart has some strong opinions about the state of Yellowknife’s city centre.
“A healthy community, economically, is one that doesn’t have any dead zones like downtown has right now,” said Stewart, who owns the Kilt and Castle Pub on 49 Street.
“Everybody should feel safe. Everybody should feel like they can run their business without fear of having to do deal with… threats to people’s businesses or even their person.”
The mayoral candidate believes the key to invigorating downtown is to relocate the homeless population.
In fact, it’s his top priority.
“I’m the only (candidate) that is focused on the most important thing to solve, which is solving the homeless problem and taking back downtown for the people of Yellowknife so it’s usable again,” said Stewart.
His solution is to house and serve people in the city experiencing homelessness in a “homeless community centre” near Bristol Pit, or at some other other location outside of downtown.
“The community centre would have all of the things that they need, including a canteen where they can buy not only food and basic supplies that they need day to day, but also buy liquor, and it would also have a managed alcohol program,” said Stewart.
“It would include everything they need under one roof.”
Stewart said the city could build the facility using federal money that supports the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness.
Most of the $11.9 million in federal grants Yellowknife got this year went toward capital projects, such as paving roads and maintaining water and sewer infrastructure.
Of that money, $200,000 went to street outreach services.
“I’ve been back in Yellowknife for nine years and (have been) just watching things get worse,” said Stewart.
“Rrather than just complain and do nothing, if I want to get something fixed, I’ll just do it myself, so that’s what I’m doing.”